I was invited by Fox Studios (home of American Idol), and more specifically, Fox Audience Strategy headed by my dear friend and colleague Nicole Bernard (Executive Vice President) to attend an IMAGES event with Fox and Essence Magazine.
The event was led by the amazing and knowledgeable Vanessa Bush, Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine. The panel featured Fox Executives Zola Mashariki and Shana C. Waterman and was filled out by Fox Talent: Suzanne de Passe, Nicole Beharie, and Gabourey Sidibe, to focus and celebrate the image of black women in media and entertainment.
Vanessa Bush showcased a dynamic presentation of Essence Magazine’s acclaimed study “The Image of Black Women in Media and Entertainment,” which was followed by an intimated conversation with the panel, and then a Q&A session with the audience. It was incredibly empowering to be in a room full of distinguished entertainment icons and intelligent women and men.
Study: The Image of Black Women in Media & Entertainment
Suzanne de Passe: Co-Chairman of de Passe Jones Entertainment Group
While she was at Motown, she discovered and signed Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, Lionel Richie & The Commodores, Rick James, de Barge, and a number of multi-million selling artists. Recipient of an Academy Award nomination for co-writing the screenplay Lady Sings the Blues, de Passe won two Emmy Awards and NAACP Image Awards as Executive Producer of Motown 25. She is an Executive producer, Chairman, Television producer and Entrepreneur.
A graduate from The Julliard School’s Drama Division, Nicole is the lead and star of Fox Network’s Sleepy Hollow as Lieutenant Abbie Mills. Her breakout role came last year as she starred in the Jackie Robinson biography, 42 opposite Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, and also co-starred with Michael Fassbender in the Golden Globe Award-nominated film Shame. Beharie’s critically acclaimed film debut was as the star of American Violet, alongside Alfre Woodard and Tim Blake Nelson. Additional film credits include The Express, My Last Day Without You, Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, Apartment 4E, and The Last Fall. By the way, did you know that she is a singer/song write too? Yeah, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, she is incredibly sweet.
For her role as Precious, Sidibe received an Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nomination for Best Actress. Sidibe was awarded both The Film Independent “Independent Spirit Award” and the NAACP Image Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. She also garnered Best Actress nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics, and British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The National Board of Review awarded her with the Breakthrough Performance Award and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored Sidibe with the Vanguard Award for “taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film.” Gabourey a series regular on Fox 21st Century’s American Horror Story.
Zola B. Mashariki: Senior Vice President of Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures
She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School and a former corporate attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP in New York and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips LLP in Los Angeles. Ms. Mashariki has worked on a number of feature films, including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (nominated for 2 Golden Globe® awards), Martha Marcy May Marlene, Another Earth, Our Family Wedding, Notorious, The Secret Life of Bees, The Savages, The Namesake, The Clearing, In America, Antwone Fisher, Baggage Claim & Black Nativity (to name a few). Most recently, Zola has been working on the sequel to John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Mira Nair’s Bengali Detective & Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd.
Shana C. Waterman: Senior Vice President, Event Series Development & Production
Shana serves as the SVP in this newly-created department at Fox Broadcasting Company charged with producing the network’s limited-run, Event Series. She’s commissioned and develops long-form series including the upcoming 24: Live Another Day and sci-fi thriller, Wayward Pines. Before taking on her new role, Waterman was Senior Vice President of Current Programming where she oversaw several prime-time, scripted television series including House, Glee, Fringe, Raising Hope, The Mindy Project, American Dad, and Family Guy. She currently serves on the Board of the New York Foundation for the Arts and is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.